I love to make gingerbread in the holidays and this recipe is suitable for cutting out gingerbread men and women or for building gingerbread houses. See this recipe being made in Allrecipes Holiday Fun with Gingerbread Video.
I have tweaked this recipe, after a few attempts, to perfection (for my tastes). First of all, I think the variances in dough texture people are having is in the way they measure their flour. I am one of those bakers that measures flour by spooning it into the measuring cup lightly and using a knife to level off. The first time I made these(exactly as the recipe states) the dough was like mush. I ended up working in an extra cup of flour with my hands. I rolled in between two pieces of parchment because of the toughness extra flour always adds to cut-outs. The cookies were tasty but to floury with a cardboard texture. I finally ended up using 1 and 1/2 cups flour. I substituted 3/4 c brown sugar for the white sugar, because I thought they needed to be sweeter as well, and I thought the brown sugar would help to keep them moist. I used a 3 inch gingerbread cutter and cooked for 7 minutes. Delicious, soft and chewy. The spices are perfect, it is a spicy cookie just as the recipe says. I used white chocolate to pipe on the features, buttons, bowties, and scarfs. Not only are they adorable, they are out-of-this-world tasting. I will try to upload a picture later today. Thanks Eileen, at last, a gingerbread man I can actually eat!!! - 11 Dec 2005 (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)
This recipe barely misses a 5 star rating for one reason only. The cookies are not "spicy" as the title promises. They have a pleasant, mildly spiced flavor, but this recipe lacks the "bite" usually associated with genuinely spicy gingerbread. For those, however, who have palates that appreciate milder spices, this recipe is perfect. If you long for a spicier kick to your gingerbread, double the listed spices except cloves, and add a liberal dash or two of cayenne. The dough was very easy to work with, after chilling. I made it before going to bed, then rolled them out the next morning, taking only what could be rolled and cut at one time out of the fridge. The dough is, like any recipe made with a large quantity of any syrupy substance (i.e. molasses, corn syrup, honey,) sticky if not adequately chilled. Sticky dough is impossible to work with. The temptation is to add more flour to the dough, but resist it! More flour toughens your product. In fact, when rolling, it is always advisable to use a pastry cloth on your board and pastry sock on your rolling pin. This enables you to incorporate the least amount of flour possible, yet still work easily with the dough. Another good quality is that these don't puff up and lose their shape when baked. In fact, what you see when on the sheet before baking is just about what you get. They're good keepers, still soft a week after baking (kept in an airtight tin.) Excellent recipe, but some tinkering with the spices could improve it. - 20 Dec 2007 (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)
Just okay. I agree that too much cloves leaves an aftertaste. Dough is sticky --I'd add another 1/2 cup of flour. Separate the dough into 3 small amounts to chill. Don't overbake because the cookies'll dry rock hard. Had a hard time not overbaking because they were so soft and looked raw in the middle, but the ones I removed on time cooled perfectly soft but not mushy. My cookies spread, & my Better Homes & Garden cookie mag says it might be caused by using margarine w/ "less than 80 percent vegetable oil" and putting the dough on hot cookie sheets. BH&G says your margarine should be at least 100 calories per T. I didn't know that about the hot cookie sheet either, so next time I'll alternate sheets. I love the idea of rolling the dough on parchment, cutting the shapes, removing scraps, & baking on the parchment. I prefer the Joe Froggers recipe on this site, which is easier to roll, eggless, uses shortening (which doesn't compete with the spices), and 1/2 as much cloves for 2x as much flour! But I do like the cinammon in this recipe so I'll add some to my Froggers. Also, just FYI for anyone getting psyched to make gingerbread cookies this season, my Better Homes & Garden cookie mag says this about dark vs. light molasses: "When describing molasses, light refers only to flavor, not color or calorie or sugar content. Light is sweet in flavor. Dark molasses is not as sweet but has a distinctive robust flavor. Light and dark are interchangeable in recipes." - 26 Sep 2006 (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)